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Researchers use HelixTree® in Whole Genome Association Study for a Psychiatric Illness

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Golden Helix, Inc. has announced that psychiatric researchers used HelixTree® Genetics Analysis Software to uncover evidence of a novel genetic locus that appears to increase the risk of developing schizophrenia.

The study is the first successful whole genome association study for a psychiatric illness. Results of the study were published in the high-impact journal, Molecular Psychiatry.

Schizophrenia is a complex disease believed to be caused by a combination of environmental factors and genes of modest effect. Led by psychologist Todd Lencz, Ph.D. and psychiatrist Anil K. Malhotra, M.D. at The Zucker Hillside Hospital (ZHH) campus of The Feinstein Institute for Medical Research, this case-control whole genome study of roughly 500,000 single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) revealed that a novel locus (rs4129148) near the CSF2RA gene was significantly associated with schizophrenia.

Whole genome association is a cutting-edge technology for uncovering genes of modest effect. However, the analysis involved presents many challenges and is often daunting and difficult to perform.

“HelixTree was indispensable for the successful completion of this study,” according to Dr. Lencz. “From convenient data storage to quality control testing and statistical analysis, coupled with the absolute speed of the software, HelixTree provided an integrated and comprehensive pipeline for working with whole genome data.”

“HelixTree was designed to be used not only by statistical geneticists but also other life science researchers such as Dr. Lencz who are experts in their respective fields,” stated Christophe Lambert, Ph.D., President and CEO of Golden Helix.

“Dr. Lencz’s study is proof that equipped with the right tools and support, dedicated researchers from a variety of backgrounds can successfully perform whole genome association studies.”